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I think the person who has written the text in this picture wrongly used the "could have", we use "could have" when we talk about something somebody was capable of doing but didn't do. I Think the proper sentence would be

"Thank you Google. We could never spell the Arnold Schwarzenegger without you"

(used past tense of can)

Is thuis correct?

enter image description here

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  • No, this usage is correct. The two uses you mention are also correct. – Alan Carmack Aug 10 '16 at 19:17
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    It is okay, though I'd prefer "never" to be located between modal "could" and perfect auxiliary "have": We could never have spelled ... – BillJ Aug 10 '16 at 19:23
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    @BillJ Why not go all the way to the Fowleresque? Never could we have spelled Arnold Schwazenegger without you. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Aug 10 '16 at 19:50
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    @user188386 "...the whitespace goes to the right of a comma in English, as well as in all other languages. Please stop putting it on the wrong side. Nobody does that. Why do you do that?" – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Aug 10 '16 at 19:55
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    @P. E. Dant: It would also be okay to move never even further forward as We never could have spelled Arnold Schwazenegger without you. But even before I click on "Add Comment" I see that you and I can't spell it anyway! (My excuse is I cut and pasted from you. What's your excuse? :) – FumbleFingers Aug 10 '16 at 20:59
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Thank you, Google. We could have never spelled "Arnold Schwarzenegger" without you.

This means we either learned to spell the name and didn't have to consult Google anymore, or only had to spell it once.

Thank you, Google. We could never spell "Arnold Schwarzenegger" without you.

This is implying every time we need to spell the name, we are needing to consult Google.

The construct "we could have never X without Y" is commonly used when thanking people for helping them with some trouble or challenge in the past. The first thing that comes to my mind when hearing this is someone accepting an award at an awards ceremony. So if the writer desired to communicate thankfulness, this is another reason why they worded it this way.

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